In this week’s StarGazer Interview:
Natalie Grainger, USA
STARGAZER : Hope you’re doing well now after some time away from the WISPA circuit to recover from the injury you had last year. Can you explain how the injury occured and how you are coping at the moment?
NATALIE :I played my last match in August last year at the New Zealand Open against Natalie Grinham in the finals. I had been suffering with what the doctors thought was plantar faciitis, but after New Zealand, I had an MRI and the tendon was torn. So I had a PRP injection in my heel, was put in a big boot for a month and I had to wait for it to heal. It took longer than expected, but I am now better and back on court enjoying my squash.
STARGAZER : How’s it like being back in the tournament scene?
NATALIE :A couple of weeks ago I played in my first tournament in 8 months at Cayman Islands. I lost to Isabel Stoehr in the last 16, she played very well. It was tough out there, and I was lacking match fitness, but I had one match ball, which I couldn’t convert! The match was hard, so I felt good about competing at that level again. I now have a few months before I look to compete in anything again, which will allow me some more time to get back up to speed.
STARGAZER : What is your toughest match so far in your career?
NATALIE : I have played many tough matches in my career, and they have been tough for different reasons. But one player in particular stands out for me, we always seemed to have battles—Carol Owens. She no longer plays on the tour, but we had huge matches in the semis of the Grand Prix finals, quarters of the British Open, finals of Qatar, finals of TOC, but the one that really stands out for me was in the semi finals of the World Open in Qatar 2002. Carol had just moved into the world #1 position for the first time in her career, she went 2/0 up and I managed to haul the match back to 2/2 and then won the 5th 10/8 to set up another one of the toughest matches of my career with Sarah Fitz-Gerald, who was looking for her 5th World Open title. She got it, but we played for 76 minutes, at a very high pace, neither one of us liked to slow things down all that much! She then decided to retire from the game, I was gutted; I’d placed a target on Sarah’s back and now there was no target!
STARGAZER : Apart from being a squash player, you’re also the President of WISPA. How do you manage this while you’re competing?
NATALIE : I tend to do quite a lot of work for WISPA in my role as President, and other things that I am involved in while I am on the road, as it is a part of my regular life. But I like to catch up with players and friends that I have come to know in my time on the tour and WISPA duties in different places. I also like to see something of a city that I am visiting!
STARGAZER : Can you give us some insights of your routine at a tournament.
NATALIE : Wake up, breakfast, work for a little, practice, shower, work a little more or go and do something, lunch, relax, visualize my game, nap for 30-45 mins, read, listen to music, knit (this is a new hobby I have just taken up!) pack my squash bag, check my grips and strings, start getting in the right mood to compete (excited and focused), make the bus to the courts/walk/taxi/subway whatever the best mode of transport is… dump my bag at the venue, go check on the other matches that are going on, check if things are running on time, then find a quiet place to chill before getting warmed up for my match. Dinner afterwards! Then sleep!
STARGAZER FACT FILE:
Name : Natalie Grainger
Age : 32
Nationality : American (South African!)
Home State/Town/City : Manchester, UK
Current World Ranking : 12
Coach : Peter Briggs
Racquet : Harrow
Favorite Squash Player of All Time : Don’t have one.
Proudest Achievement : To have my parents and friends respect me.
Favorite Tournament : Cayman Islands, Qatar, US Open.
Favorite Food : Medium rare burger with gorgonzola cheese and ketchup, well done fries.
Favorite Holiday Destination : Going home to South Africa (Garden route coastline and safari!)
Favorite Color : Blue/Turquoise, Pink, Golds
Connect with Natalie on her Facebook Page!